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It’s all new, and it’s fold-tastic!

Trish Witkowski expands with folded samples, dielines and printed comps.

If you haven’t been to in a while, you’re going to want to make some time to check it out. Big things are happening at the company known for sharing creative folded formats on the popular e-video series “60-Second Super-Cool Fold of the Week.”

It’s been a big year for foldfactory—hitting a million views on YouTube, celebrating 300 episodes of “Fold of the Week,” and reinventing the business to meet the needs of their growing (and rabid) fan base.

“Over the years, we have received countless requests to help customers, not just with ideas and advice, but also with requests for dielines and samples,” states Trish Witkowski, founder of Foldfactory. “It was always so frustrating to tell people that we couldn’t help. However, we also knew that transforming the business into a real “folding factory” was going to be a gigantic leap that we couldn’t ease our way into. If we were going to do it, it would be all or nothing.”

Advancements in digital printing and finishing have made it possible to create many of the amazing formats that have been featured at Foldfactory over the years—and Foldfactory plans to get those formats out to the world as quickly as possible. With an aggressive plan to add new formats every week, Foldfactory launched in September with 24 “Super-Cool Folds™.” In October, they began releasing four new formats per month, setting an ambitious pace of 48 new formats per year. As of mid-November 2015, they already have 41 creative formats, including the Twist Fold, the Tulip Fold, the Circular Accordion, the 9-Panel Reveal, and much more. They will also periodically release special collections, including the recent Holiday Collection of 10 creative folded holiday card formats, presented by some very special holiday guests. Click here to see the Foldfactory Holiday Collection:

The site is designed to show off the creativity of the formats in an interactive way. Each format is in a bright 2-tone color scheme and features “magic hands” that appear to fold and unfold as you roll over them. Visitors can scroll down to download a dieline and order a blank folded sample. Then, upload your layout to order a digitally printed and laser-cut comp of your design.

Also new this Fall is a new membership program called “Fold Club.” This free subscription gives members unlimited access to Foldfactory’s award-winning (and addictive) FOLDRite template-building service – a service that, until now, has always been a paid subscription. Plus, members will get the inside track on new format releases and will receive the “ Fold of the Week” in their inbox every Thursday. Join now:

To learn more about Foldfactory, please visit the website:

Direct Mail To The Max


Last week, Rider Dickerson partnered with our friend and direct marketing guru, Trish Witkowski, of to host a FREE,  invite only direct mail workshop; Direct Mail to the Max!  Our lucky attendees were intrigued to learn about the process of creating direct mail that performs and creates engagement.  Since the workshop was limited to a select group of individuals, attendees were able to have one-on-one conversations with Trish about their marketing plans and direct mail efforts!

DMM image

Throughout the workshop, attendees learned about the engagement strategies that work, the trends that are hot now and ways to improve their direct mail strategies. We covered trends including ugly versus beautiful mail, lumpy mail, freemiums and premiums, lift letters and bounce backs, creative envelopes and opening mechanisms, stamps and addressing techniques, paper, formats and image tricks, the human touch, party on the back, and lots of other intriguing concepts.

DMM image 2

To round out the workshop, Trish dug into her treasure trove of direct mail samples and case studies and shared insight on what pieces worked, why they worked as well as those that missed the mark.  We saw samples that used high impact tips and techniques that will get more bang for the mailing buck on any budget.

DMM image 3

Our attendees walked away with so much valuable information to implement into their marketing plans. If you missed the workshop we have included Trish’s 10 High Impact Tricks for Engaging Direct Mail! To learn more about this awesome educational workshop that Rider Dickerson put on and how to attend our next one, please contact your Rider Dickerson Account Executive.


Stand-Up vs. Sitting At Work

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

This past year, one of Rider Dickerson’s own, Vice President of Retail Solutions, Chris Bostrom decided to try out the whole sitting vs standing at your desk. Before committing to a totally new regime, Chris built his own stand-up desk from boxes we had at Rider just to make sure that he would be able to work at a stand-up desk.  Much to his delight, Chris enjoyed his new stand- up desk and ordered one that wasn’t made out of cardboard boxes.   After over six months, Chris is still enjoying his new desk and even said he felt more productive throughout the day. “I wish I had converted to a stand up desk years earlier. It’s part of the way I work now as much as email or those cool large paperclips. If I start to sit too long, my brain makes me stand up long before my Apple Watch ever prompts me to do the same.”

standupdesk 2

After Chris began using his stand-up desk I decided to do some research on what some of the benefits were of standing vs. sitting at work.  While it is widely known that sitting for long periods of time are unhealthy, I wanted to see just how much healthier standing really was.  Studies have been done on this topic quite a bit in the last year. One study showed that the body is supposed to change position or move from your chair every 20 minutes. This movement helps your body to recharge and avoid common sedentary job effects.  Gretchen Reynolds, a reporter for The New York Times, recently studied the health benefits of standing up every 20 minutes for 2-3 minutes and this is what she found:

New science shows very persuasively that standing up about every 20 minutes, even for only a minute or two, reduces your risks of developing diabetes and heart disease.

By standing up, you cause the big muscles in your legs and back to contract, which leads to an increase in certain enzymes that break up fat in the blood stream. You don’t have to jog in place or do jumping jacks. Just stand. A very pleasant additional benefit is that standing up every 20 to 30 minutes also seems to prompt the body to burn calories, so you don’t gain as much weight from sitting at the office most of the day.  If you can stand up every 20 minutes — even if you do nothing else — you change how your body responds physiologically.


Many other studies showed these health benefits as well.  So now I wanted to see if utilizing a stand-up desk was worth it for eight hours a day or if just standing up every 20 minutes was good enough. Some of the side-effects that come with sitting at your desk all day were headaches, posture issues, low productivity (your muscles, including your brain not moving and falling asleep), as well as weight gain. For the health-conscious person, these side effects would be enough to look into the stand-up desk.


Much of the research I found followed suit and confirmed that using a stand-up desk – if the same person were to use a stand- up desk for one day they would burn 20% more calories than what they would on a typical day that they sat at their original desk.  These health benefits are not directly due to just standing-up alone, but because your body is already standing rather than sitting you are more likely to have more movement.  The absolute key to the stand-up desk is movement.  While standing up alone is better than sitting all day, to achieve the maximum health benefits and be the most productive it is important to move your body, change your position, take a walk or do something different than you were in the last 20 minutes.  While I do not know if the stand-up desk is for everyone, the health benefits really give you something to think about while you are sitting at your desk for the next eight hours.  :)


Can a Paper Tube Company Win Over the Millennials?

Trish Witkowski 

In my last blog post, I highlighted TOMS Shoes, who happened to be doing an impressive job of marketing to Millennials. However, the point I made at the end of the post was that it’s easy to engage Millennials when you have a sexy product in the B2C space. Sure, there’s competition everywhere, and it takes vision and creativity, blah, blah, blah. I’m not trying to discount the amazing job they’ve done. What I’m saying is, what happens when you’re in the B2B space? How do these Millennial marketing techniques apply? Do they apply at all, or do the rules change in B2B?


First things first, companies in the B2B space often can’t benefit as greatly from social media. Let’s take this company, Yazoo Paper Tubes & Cores, a leading privately-owned manufacturer of high quality paper tubes and cores. I discovered them through a direct mail postcard that was sent to me by someone who was within their target customer demographic.



I remember thinking – “Wow, these guys have to market, too. How do they do it??”

All I could imagine was:


User-generated content: “Join our community! Take a picture of yourself with your favorite rolled-paper product and tag it #PaperTubeNation”


Facebook: “Get up-to-the-minute paper tube news – Like us on Facebook!”


Twitter: #tbt Check out our first paper tube production line from 1902!

Retweet, anyone . . . anyone?


Pinterest: Pinterest paper tube crafts for kids!


Obviously, the samples above are meant to be humorous rather than mocking in nature, and to prove the point that businesses often have an uphill battle ahead of them when they’re trying to engage with Millennials in the social space.


To Yazoo’s credit, they have the obligatory Facebook ( and Twitter ( accounts with a few hundred likes and followers, and they post professional-quality content in these channels and on their blog, which they contribute to on a regular basis. They have a very nice LinkedIn presence, too. (


So, in B2B, if social media is obligatory, but not really a place to generate a lot of momentum, where should businesses focus their efforts? Mobile friendliness, my people. Millennials have a mobile-first mentality. So, if you do not have a mobile-friendly web site, this is your absolute first order of business. Seriously. Stop what you’re doing and turn all of your attention to creating a great mobile experience NOW. Make it fast, easy, uncluttered and interactive, if possible.


I’ll admit I had low expectations for Yazoo. How cool could their Web site be, anyway? I was almost certain that they’d be behind in the mobile-friendliness category as well. It’s paper tubes, after all.


Well, guess what? I was pleasantly surprised with what I found! Yazoo has a clean, bright and updated Web site that looks welcoming and current and organized ( They embed a video on the home page as well – an important detail. Millennials love video. As you can see, they also prominently display easy order buttons as focal points on the home page. In an IBM study, 1 Millennials in the B2B space indicated that their most preferred attribute in a company is ease of doing business with them.



Look them up on your phone and they are mobile-friendly, too. It’s nothing fancy, but it works. My one suggestion to them would be to add videos to their mobile site.



They have a brag-worthy recycling program as well, but they’re very quiet about it. I would suggest making a bigger environmental statement on the home page and mobile versions. Millennials are extremely eco-conscious.


Interesting stuff, right? Well, there’s a lot more to learn—I’m just getting warmed up. So, I guess you’ll have to join me on June 4th at the printForum Conference. I’ll see you there!


Register today to reserve your seat!  Visit


Millennials Love Mail (Done Right)

Trish Witkowski


In my last blog post, I mentioned that I’m actively studying the Millennial generation, and how to market to them. In doing so, I’ve learned some interesting things. To catch you up to speed, here are a few critical findings:


Millennials actually like print and mail communications; they prefer to read from a printed page over reading from a screen; they like companies that care about the world and its inhabitants; they share socially; they love technology; they appreciate authenticity and personalized marketing experiences; they like to participate in the brand experience; they’re suspicious of the sales pitch; and they value the opinions of others in their marketing decisions.


Now, these are all interesting clues that become tools that we can use in how we communicate with this generation, but if you read that list and think about what you’re sending out, does anything you’re sending actually align with it? These days, as I’m looking at everything from the perspective of  “What would a Millennial think of this?” I’m realizing that there are some companies that are not just checking off the items on the list—they’re checking them off like a Boss.


Here’s an example of a company that is really doing it right. The TOMS Shoes catalog is called “Journal vol. 3: This is Haiti”

toms 3


The catalog follows a group of TOMS employees and friends, and they look like they could be your friends (if you’re not over 35). And, yes, they’re wearing TOMS. Always. And as you might expect, there are pages filled with shoes and accessories throughout, but the merchandise becomes secondary or even tertiary to the subject matter.


The catalog is in the “magalog” format, which is a hybrid catalog/magazine mail product. It tells stories of their travels, of the people they met, and gives voices and names (and Twitter handles!) to the group of travelers. However the strongest theme in the catalog is the many ways TOMS is making a difference in the world. Collectively, the message becomes clear that through the support of the TOMS brand, you can make a difference, too.

 toms 2

TOMS has a “One for One” program, where if you buy one of their bags, you can help save a baby’s life through the company’s donation to the Every Mother Counts foundation. TOMS partners with the World Wildlife Fund to save Rhinos. Buying TOMS coffee ensures that water will be available in regions that produce it. They create jobs (creating shoes) in Haiti and they also donate shoes in Haiti. Buy the shoes to support the people who work hard to make them. It goes on and on, but none of it feels insincere. It’s authentic. I’ll admit that by the end of the catalog, I was looking for a reason to buy something—anything. I spent a lot of time with that catalog, and I liked the company when I was done.


TOMS also invites their customers to take photos of themselves creating a better tomorrow, and to upload them on one of many different social platforms with a chance to be featured in a future catalog. You guessed it, they’re building a community and supporting the growth of user-generated content. They have a rewards program, too, which is also a valued benefit.


It’s marketing, but it’s socially conscious, and shareable, and inclusive, and subtle, and pure, unadulterated marketing genius. That catalog is everything Millennials are looking for these days. Oh, and they make quality, stylish products, too. However that part is a given, because there’s no room for mediocrity.


It is important to note that the B2C space is certainly much different than B2B. Not to take anything away from TOMS, but one could argue that it’s easy to get people engaged when you have a sexy consumer product that (young) people like to wear or use. So, the question is, how can businesses in the B2B space engage Millennial customers by translating some of these powerful techniques into marketing strategies that work for them? I guess you’ll have to read my next blog to find out . . .

Marketers, Meet the Millennials

Trish Witkowski


They’re like exotic birds, the Millennials. We study their habits, and try to figure out how they communicate with each other, and what they like to do, eat and buy. As marketers, we’re obsessed with them—this generation of young people who quite possibly have never used a phone with a cord attached to it, and who may have no idea what life was like before the internet.


The truth is, we have to study them. They’re a force to be reckoned with at 87 million strong in the U.S. To put that into perspective for you, there are 76 million baby boomers. I know—hard to imagine.


So, Who Are They, Really?

Unlike other generations, there is no definitive start or end date for the millennials, however the generally accepted definition of a millennial is someone who was born between 1982 and 2004 (give or take). So, basically, people who are in the roughly 11-33 year age bracket today.


Millennials, also called Gen Y, are different than any other generation to date. They’re elusive and hard to reach through traditional marketing channels, because they’re suspicious of marketing tactics. They can smell a marketing pitch from a mile away and they’ll tune it out completely.


Millennials grew up on social media, and they rely on the opinions of their peers and the input of others when they’re making a decision. One of the benefits of this is that they are also willing to share and promote the things they like on social media—in fact, a study by Edelman determined that 90% of millennials will share their brand preferences online. However, in exchange, they expect to be able to communicate with companies, to be heard and acknowledged, and to be able to participate in product development and the brand experience. They also love reward programs. 60% of millennials are willing to switch brands if it means getting more benefits.


Millennials are deeply interested in social responsibility, and lean toward companies that support the issues they care about. Over 85% of millennials correlate their purchasing decisions (and their willingness to recommend a brand to others) to the responsible efforts a company is making (SquareSpace). Millennials appreciate and search out authenticity in a brand, which leads to their trust and loyalty as a customer.


Not surprisingly, millennials are tech-savvy, too. They have their cell phones with them 24/7 and use them to shop, compare and evaluate their options. In fact, 65% of millennials have abandoned an in-store purchase due to information found on their smartphone while shopping (eMarketer). On the flip side, in study after study, millennials have shown a strong preference for printed materials. In a digital world, to millennials, print is personal and special and is free of distraction. They like to receive print and move on to investigate further through the use of technology.


The Challenge

The challenge, of course, is to take all of these data points and preferences and turn them into powerful strategies that can lead to sales within this demographic. I’m addressing this topic in 2015 through printForum and the printForum conference in June. The theme this year is “Marketing to Millennials,” so, watch for more blog postings and promotions as we continue the conversation and build up to the conference. I hope to see you there.



Print Infinity! A Short Introduction to InterActive Print

Cindy Walas

Walas Younger Ltd


This blog post is brought to you from our friend and Augmented Reality Expert, Cindy Walas.


We’re hearing more and more buzz these days about Augmented Reality – for magazines, catalogs, books, maps, guidebooks, brochures, packaging, signage – and all of its potential for the future.


What is AR really?

The Oxford dictionary defines “augmented reality” as:

A technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.”


The current Marketing definition is:

A technology that increases the passive content of (print) media by connecting to interactive digital content through a smart device.”


For print:

Augmented Reality is cutting-edge technology that connects the print and the digital world.”


It is an easy, interactive way to engage your audience. And great content is the key to great customer engagement.


So what kind of content?

Kevin Keane, a social media guru, attorney and marketing consultant for companies ranging from cyber security to packaging to the new #printprotagonist start up for #interactiveprint, recently posted these goals for any good AR in a LinkedIn group:


Good AR Should: 1) Bring print to life; 2) Add value to print; 3) Involve M-commerce (mobile commerce); 4) Offer a deeper dive of engagement with the product and service offerings from the client’s enterprise;  5) offer social sharing integration; 6) Offer gamification, as it is a proven way to develop “stickiness” with customers – sweepstakes, contests, surveys and even puzzles cause folks to stick around, and 7) Offer analytics. “Seven splendid layers of discovery”


It’s not just about special effects that you see so often, either. Think more about adding expanded material to textbooks, technical information to catalogs, how-to videos for recipes, storefronts to magazines and catalogs…the possibilities are infinite. Print Infinity!


AR creates the perfect bridge between the print and digital worlds. Tony Calo of StampaSud/Stampatech in Italy, is starting to lean towards “interactive print”, instead of augmented reality. He has a point, as it zeros in on “print” as the medium.


Walas Younger Ltd has partnered with Stampatech (via StampaSud SPA in Britain and Italy) to produce a number of AR projects. Working with Tony Calo, Stampatech project director, we recently completed two terrific magazine projects with 10+ pages of AR-enhancement, and collaborated on AR development for several other clients.


Europa In Canto: A Children’s Opera Music Course Book


To involve students with samples of music and obtain data related this interaction. To see AR in-action yourself please click on the Europa In Canto image for a scannable, enhanced version. Download the Stampatech app, scan and enjoy the AR experience.


We: Built an area where students were encouraged to scan with the Stampatech AR app and download extra content – sheet music, videos and audio music samples. To do this, clients would apply for this information via email, which created an email database of subscribers at the same time.

Results: More than 1200 downloads and email addresses were created within a  three-month period. The publisher gained a geographic map of how and where downloads were effected, generating a “success picture” of the areas of the country where major interest in the courses was building.


“Who’s Hungry?” Food Magazine

stampa bbq

Brief: “Who’s Hungry?” is a leading food photography magazine. The client wanted to add information to the print issues that mated the links and added information that was available via the digital edition. The magazine also wanted to use it as an avenue for client sponsorship, links and promo information, without having to add advertising space to the magazine.

We: Built digital pages that linked to specific article images. Readers could see additional articles/blogs, links to restaurant information, recipe pages and other features. Future issues will include paid sponsor links and features in lieu of advertising space.



EuroStampa SPA

To interact with the image please download the Stampatech App.

We: Have partnered with EuroStampa, one of the world’s largest label printing organization, to add value to its print as part of an innovative solutions for its labels. Working together, we have devised a specific label product called “LabelActive”, where Stampatech offers clients the chance to scan and download supplemental product information, create client profile databases, demonstrate origins and check authenticity.

Results: EuroStampa was so pleased with it that they immediately added a demo area for the program at the LuxePack luxury show in Monaco. During the three days of the show, more than 200 demos were made, with inquiries from four continents.


AR (#interactiveprint) engages and empowers, and will help you combine your separate marketing channels under one umbrella – Print!. It allows you to go beyond the printed page, to be able to engage with client/customers in a way that is only limited by the imagination.

Truly “Print Infinity!”



Here’s a neat little video (1 minute) that demos the “Stampatech” AR platform. It really shows the power (and the magic) of #interactive print.


Cindy Walas is Principal of Walas Younger Ltd, an Integrated Media Solutions company located in the Chicago environs.


Antony Calo is Stampatech Project Director. Stampatech is the InterActive Print system created by StampaSud, UK and Italy.


Kevin Keane is a writer, blogger, speaker and commentator in the global graphics arts community.



“What Happened to Helping First?”

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

I was speaking with my doctor recently, a man for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect.  He referred me to see a specialist about some allergies I’ve been struggling with.  When I told him this specialist had a policy that required patients to pay upfront and then get reimbursed by insurance after the fact he chafed!  He said “whatever happened to helping people 1st and taking care of the payment after the fact?”

Granted the healthcare industry has changed dramatically in recent years, and my doctor is what you would consider a veteran.  His ideals and views on patient treatment are to be commended.  He’s all about getting the patient well and worrying about the money later.  He built is practice on this philosophy, and I’m sure he’s received countless referrals over the years not only for his amazing medical abilities but for the compassion and empathy he shows for his patients.

It got me thinking about my favorite book again, “The Go Giver” Specifically, it got me thinking about the very 1st Law of Stratospheric Success—“The Law of Value.”  This law states “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.”

I try to live by this law every day—in business and in my personal dealings.  But if we strictly focus this law on business, it’s quite simple: give more than you take from your clients.  Do you hold your clients to the number on every proposal and start drafting change orders the second you go over your budgeted amount of time on the project?  Or do you wow them and give more than what they expected?  Do you make it a point to blow your clients away with service that makes them compare every experience  with their other service providers to you?

It sounds cliché, but exceeding the client’s expectations will never go out of style.  It’s a surefire way to cement a long term relationship built on trust, empathy and mutual respect.  The client knows you have their best interests at heart, and when you give that extra bit of yourself and rock the client’s world you send the message that their long term business and loyalty is worth more to you than an alteration fee or change order and a quick profit now!

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying you should bankrupt your business and give away all of your services or never charge extra for something.  I’m simply stating that good enough should never be enough.  Give more in value than you take in payment.  Earn loyal customers, not satisfied customers.  It’s not hard to do.  It really isn’t!

So what’s your take on “The Law of Value?”  I’d love to know!


Marketing for the 2014 Holiday Shopping Season

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

With the busiest holiday shopping season right around the corner, we are eager to see what retailers and marketers have up their sleeves to get customers in the door. Much has changed in holiday shopping in the last ten years. Gone are the days of waiting for the huge Sears catalog to arrive at your house and picking out the toys you want for Christmas.  In today’s world, holiday shopping begins earlier each year with commercials, emails, pop-ups, printed advertisements, etc.  Marketers today will do anything that will grab your attention and get you in the door and buy their merchandise. We thought it would be a fun way to get you in the holiday spirit if we gave you a sneak peak on what to expect this holiday shopping season.

One of the marketing channels that will be used more than any year before will be social media.  According to marketing professionals, 62% of marketers plan on using social media as their main platform for attracting customers. Creating brand awareness, extending brand reach and driving sales are the primary goals of every marketer coming into the holiday shopping season.  Social media lends itself to reach a number of age groups and demographics.  When trying to sell products and create  a buzz about your company social media is a great medium to use.

Another medium that is always used is email.  Just this past week some of the major black Friday ads were leaked online and emails with the link to the ad.  In conjunction to using email advertisements many large stores and companies stay true to the first form of medium, our personal favorite, print!  Just this week I have received three of the major store’s printed ads in the mail.  I did receive the emailed version a day before and then when the printed version arrived I grabbed it right away to flip through.

One of the other mediums that will be used heavily in the 2014 holiday shopping season is mobile.  It’s no secret that everyone is attached to their phone – because of this marketers have capitalized on this medium to get shoppers in the store.  One way that marketers are making sure to stay top of mind is sending out text messages with links to coupons for black Friday.  In addition, there have been dozens of QR Codes scattered throughout print ads as well as in the store. And maybe not this year, but don’t be surprised next year if Augmented Reality explodes during the holiday season.

This holiday season, marketers have been diligently using cross media marketing to get their message out to consumers. The average consumer is available on 7.2 channels. Knowing this, big retailers need to put their message on multiple channels to reach their target consumers.  I’m sure everyone has received the Target printed ad in the mail, multiple emails, ads on social media, banner ads, etc. By using the multiple forms of media together they are more likely to make an impact and have consumers take action.

With less than 2 weeks to go until insane shopping at 6pm during Thanksgiving dinner… I mean, the kick off to the most wonderful time of the year,J I am excited to see all of the channels that are used this holiday season to get shoppers in the store. Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving  and enjoy the holiday shopping season!


Using Video in Your Marketing Efforts

This blog post is brought to you by our friend and printForum supporter, Jimmy Boratyn, President and Founder of Shot Time Productions Inc. Jimmy has expert knowledge and experience  working with video marketing, including doing lots of great work with Loyola University Chicago.


Marketing videos are finally cool. This wasn’t always the case. We live in an age when video is no longer the costly and time-consuming venture it once was. The Internet has created a way to make instant gratification and genius marketing strategies available at the press of a virtual button. Currently, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, and the new visual medium gives companies hundreds of ways to utilize unique videos as their new platforms to brand and market their products.


Marketing videos allow us to share ideas and products in ways that were just not possible before the advent of the Internet. The first point I’ll address is hosting sites like YouTube and Vimeo. With millions of people searching the web for endless bits of information and entertainment, adding your message to one of them (which is free) enhances your visibility. These types of video hosting sites even allow you to build a full page around your video so you can post links to your Facebook and Twitter sites as well as add messages about your brand and mission. Everything is connected, which means while people can access your social media from your hosted video site, you can also embed those videos on Facebook and company websites. Your client has direct access to you and your media.


Other options for sharing your video are email campaigns, websites, and digital handouts such as personalized flash drives with your branding on them. Using videos as part of your social media campaigns can add a level of excitement to your page.  According to studies, an average user spends 88% more time on a website with video. Sixty percent of consumers will spend at least 2 minutes watching a video that educates them on a product they plan to purchase. As the marketer, you also gain the advantage of putting a face to your product, which allows people to connect with your campaign on a deeper level. Some sites like Vine even allow for what is referred to as “micro-videos” to spread messages like viral wildfire. These 6-second videos are short, but they gain a large amount of attention if done well. If anyone hasn’t seen it, Michelle Obama’s Turnip for What vine (for her healthy eating campaign) is a perfect example of this. Here’s the link:


We as consumers and sellers and general Internet users are always striving for interconnectedness. When we find something we like, especially a video, we continue to revisit it. We show it to friends and family, and enjoy it over and over again. And if that video is posted on your hosting site with a link to your website, the video will stay there for as long as you want it to. Currently, videos have about a 4 year lifespan. In web terms, this is an eternity, since the average Facebook post will hold attention for about 3 hours. Not to worry, however, you can reuse the video in different ways! By putting together an email campaign, you can embed the same video again, or you can make a whole new video with a targeted message for that campaign.


Websites are also a place where these videos can be featured heavily. Whether you showcase them on your home page or in a designated video tab, these videos add a level of quality to your site. They allow you to educate and inform your audience. Consumers are smart. They’re well researched, and they seek out information before they purchase anything. If they are coming to your site to learn about a product, they will be more likely captivated and intrigued with a quality video. 


Lastly, I mentioned digital handouts, and this is a new, interesting trend. Advancements in technology mean more and more computers don’t actually have DVD drives, and many people are adapting-turning to streaming for television and movies. A short video can easily fit on a good flash drive (branded to suit you specifically) and be handed out at events as promotional giveaway preloaded with YOUR marketing video.


Recently, I heard someone mention that everyone is striving for a strong social media presence, which is incredibly important. What is also important, however, is that today we’re at the point where video is the new necessity for a company. A video’s versatility, shelf life, and the simple fact of being much more cost effective than they once were, all point toward the fact that in the near future, videos will be as indispensible as Facebook, Twitter, and other social media endeavors are to a company’s marketing and branding success.


Jimmy Boratyn

President and Founder

Shot Time Productions Inc.

Today’s Marketers – Getting to Sales Ready

Joseph Manos

Executive Vice President

MindFire Inc.


What if there was one area of opportunity for your marketing organization that would fundamentally shift your sales revenue results and drive more marketing ROI for each dollar invested in your marketing programs?

Well believe it or not, there is an area of opportunity that will significantly improve your results and lead to a higher return on marketing investment spent on opportunity development.

If you are like most marketers, the lion share of your marketing budget is being invested in new customer acquisition programs.  Yet, for this critical area of opportunity many marketers continue to focus on leads and conversions when they should be focused on delivering marketing qualified leads (MQL’s) to your organization to be developed to Sales Ready.

The reason for this shift will be discussed in more detail below, but the number one reason is that this process delivers more revenue per lead generated and shortens the overall sales cycle.

This is an important consideration for all marketers because not all leads are created equal.  Many of the leads you deliver today are simply looking for more information to start their assessment of you as a potential provider or they are simply researching information on a potential area of opportunity for the future.

Yet, many marketers are sending these leads directly to the sales team for follow-up.

Does that make sense?  Is that the best approach?

Let’s take a quick look at some of the data that suggests that may not be the best course of action.

According to industry study data there is a huge gap in the quality of leads marketers are delivering to their sales organization.  Henry Bruce, President and Founder of  The Rock Arnard Group said it best., “When I reflect on the state of marketing automation, three stats paint a very ominous picture:

  • 70% of the buy cycle is complete before sales engages with buyers
  • Only 50% of a typical sales team achieves quota
  • Only 10%-15% of new leads are considered sales ready

Think about the data reported above…if 70% of the buy cycle is complete before your sales team engages with potential buyers, your ability to convert those leads drops significantly.  Additionally, if only 10-15% of the new leads are sales ready, we are wasting the sales teams time.  The leads need to be nurtured further before sales engages with these opportunities.  This also negatively impacts your Marketing ROI data and you are probably getting a false read on your marketing results and blaming sales for their inability to convert leads to sales.

Since so much of a prospects time is spent researching online before they ever contact a prospective company, you need to have an engagement program that starts a dialogue with these prospects well before they realize they are ready to invest in your solution.   You also need to leverage all of your marketing response channels in order to offer the prospect a chance to provide you with insight on why they are inquiring and what they want right now.  By taking this step you have an opportunity to provide them with high value content and start the nurturing process for future engagements.

By building their awareness, trust and confidence, in you as a potential provider, as well as providing high-value content to educate them, you start an ongoing engagement that ultimately leads to sales ready status.

The days of one and done programs are gone.  You have to build ongoing nurturing programs that both step your prospects through a cycle of high value opportunities to learn more, and provide you critical insight on their current and future needs.

Once you have built a nurturing and scoring program you will be able to deliver high quality leads (sales ready) to your sales team and you will be on your way to improved marketing and sales results in all areas.

By taking your existing program and leveraging technology and messaging in a more strategic and focused manner you can start to transform your overall program results for the long haul.

If you are looking for more information and insight on how to achieve this approach for your business feel free to contact me at or ask your Rider Dickerson representative for more information.

Blog created by Joseph Manos, Executive Vice President, MindFireInc




Mind Your Ink–Use Drawdowns

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


Would you paint your house without seeing a sample of the paint on your wall?  If yes, you are taking a big risk that the color won’t look as nice on your wall as it does on the paint chip in the store.  When we built our house 5 years ago my wife and I went back and forth about paint colors.  The best thing we did was order small sample jars of the colors we were considering and then paint small swatches on the actual walls to see how they looked—especially once the paint dried.  We loved certain colors in the store, but not so much when we saw them on the walls.  Ultimately we were very happy with the final colors.

Why am I writing about my paint selection process you may be asking?  Simple, the same concept holds true when printing PMS (Pantone Matching System for our non print-junkie readers) colors.  Many designers I work with make the common mistake of trusting their PMS books to select their ink colors assuming that just because the color looks like it does in the book that it will look that way when it’s printed. Big mistake!

Just like paint looks different when it dries on your walls, so do inks when they interact with different papers.  The PMS book, like the paint chip books at your local Home Depot, should be used as a guide for choosing your spot colors.  However, if you really want to see what the ink will look like ask your printer for a drawdown.  A drawdown is a swatch of ink applied to the stock you will be printing on.  By taking this extra step you can confirm your choice of spot color was correct or you may not like what you see and choose a different color.   Either way, it’s an important step, and it’s a step I encourage all of my clients to take when working with spot colors.

In some cases you may end up choosing a different ink color.  In other cases you might like the ink but don’t like how it looks on the paper you chose.  In that case you might choose a different stock, pull another drawdown and then move ahead.  The key thing to note is that inks are not opaque.  They are transparent.  They take on the characteristics of the paper they are printed on.  For example, ink sits up nicely on top of a coated sheet of paper (this is called ink holdout).  The color will look more vibrant.  However, take that same ink and print it on a toothy uncoated sheet and the ink soaks into the sheet like a sponge—killing the vibrancy of the ink.  This is why the PMS books come in coated and uncoated.

We worked on a project recently for a new client where pulling drawdowns helped the designer make a really wise paper selection.  You can read the full story here.  Had we not taken the extra step to pull the drawdowns the project may not have had the same great result.  I work with many designers, both experienced and less experienced.  I have learned over the years that many designers just don’t know a drawdown is even a possibility.  This is why I make it my personal responsibility to make sure my clients are aware of their choices so that in the end we are all happy with the direction of the project and the final result.

Have you had any ink nightmares recently?  Let me know.  I’d love to discuss what happened, why it happened and how it could have been avoided.

In my next post I will discuss the importance of choosing brand papers to ensure consistent color across all of your company’s print materials.


“We Do All the Work for You”

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


I was in Jewel recently, and I needed to get a new iPass transponder. Apparently, mine was out of date and would stop working soon, so I needed to upgrade to a new one.  I have to admit, heading to Jewel I expected the worst.  After all, this was a combination of the State of Illinois and Jewel, so can you blame me for anticipating anything but a terrible customer service experience?

To my pleasant surprise, the switch was easy and pain free.  I spent all of 2 minutes in the store and was on my merry way.  I figured I’d have to wait in a line for several minutes, and once I did get my turn I was surely going to have to do extra work to activate this new transponder.  Well, it was nothing like that.  The woman politely took my transponder and my letter from the State of Illinois and promptly scanned the barcode on the letter and the barcode on the new transponder.  She handed me my portion of the letter and my transponder and said told me to have a great day and that I was all set.  I said, “So when I get home I’m going to have to log into my account and enter my new transponder info to fully activate this, right?”  What she said next made my day.  She looked at me with a smile and said “Nope, we do all the work for you.”

There you have it.  We do all the work for you.  Seven simple words that put a smile on my face and gave me some more hope that customer service is still alive and well.  I’ve had my share of horrible customer service experiences with Jewel before, but this was so different.  However, why do I encounter fewer and fewer experiences like this?  What happened to doing everything to make the customer happy?  Don’t get me wrong, there are still lots of companies doing it right—Zappos, Apple and Whole Foods to name a few.  But too often, I encounter lazy sales associates who don’t understand the fundamental principles of customer service.

My job with my clients is to always add value and to make their jobs easier.  If I can’t make those 2 things happen then I’m not doing my job.  This is printed on the back of my business cards.  That’s how committed I am to giving my clients an incomparable experience every time they engage with me and my team at Rider Dickerson on a new project or campaign.  I want my clients to compare every experience they have with another printer to their experiences with me and my team.  And when they do, I want them to say “Boy, it’s just not as easy and good as it is when we work with Dean and Rider.”

I want loyal clients, not satisfied clients.  A satisfied client will leave the second they get a better deal.  A loyal client will stay with me as long as I continue to add value and find ways to exceed their expectations while always having their best interest at heart.

What shocks me is so many people miss the boat on this.  Why folks in customer facing positions—whether it’s a cashier at a retail outlet or an inside sales associate on a phone—can’t grasp the simple concept that the customer is all that matters is beyond me.  It’s not a hard concept when you stop and think about it.  Do whatever it takes to take care of the customer.  There’s only one reason folks don’t do it as much as they should today—laziness.  Shame on those who are too lazy to go above and beyond for the customer and shame on the companies allowing this type of behavior.

How about you?  Do you do what the customer asks, or do you do more than they ask?  Do you surprise them and deliver more in value than you take in payment (the 1st Law of Stratospheric Success in my favorite book “The Go Giver”).  Trust me, going that little bit extra is worth the effort.  It just might make the difference between a loyal customer and one who leaves you the 1st time they get a better deal.

Think about it!


Not Just a Trend

 Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


With the World Cup going on right now, seemingly everyone has jumped on the bandwagon and become an overnight soccer fan.  In the United States, soccer (futbol) does not have the enormous fan base or the notoriety it has in the rest of the world, yet a few weeks ago over 25 million people tuned in the watch the United States play Portugal.  Crazy!  While I understand that everyone is excited and wants to support their country, which I am all for, will this new found notoriety stay or will the MLS go back to having its die-hard fans and that’s about it? The reason I bring this up is our society today is all about trends and jumping for the next big thing.  Take for example MySpace.  This social media site was the be-all end-all social media site ten years ago. Today, MySpace is obsolete compared to other social media sites.  This brings me to my point: the one form of communication that has not changed or been eliminated is print.

In the past few years, some marketers made the assumption that they no longer needed print and that all of their marketing could be done online. As the economy suffered and budgets got slashed, the kneejerk reaction was to cut the print budget and toss all the efforts and resources towards newfangled online marketing approaches.  Don’t get me wrong, online marketing has its place in today’s fast paced marketing world, but to ignore print is to risk having your message get ignored by your target audience.  The stats don’t lie—print works and can be the match that ignites the response rates you seek from your direct marketing campaign. Stats have shown that when print is the driving force and is coupled with email marketing, social media marketing, SMS text messages response rates are astronomically higher than when print is not involved.  According to MarketingProfs, 73% of consumers actually prefer mail over other advertising methods and 40% try new businesses after receiving a direct mail piece. Because everyone receives so many emails, tweets, updates, etc. and the internet is so diluted with garbage- your message may not get across.  Everywhere you look there is another ad, another spam email or post.  By the time your message (even if it is spectacular) gets to the correct person it may not make the impact you hoped for because of the media in which it was received.  Print; however, is tangible.  When you do receive a printed piece that designed well and has a thought-provoking message along with an email, the messaging will be much more difficult to disregard. Unlike many of the online marketing channels, while they can be extremely successful when used correctly, print is not a trend.  Print has been used successfully for years and now rather than replacing it because of the new technology, supplementing it with email, social media, etc. is the way to use it most effectively.  As I had stated in a post earlier, the key is to learn to put print to work for you!

This year we have completed many highly-successful, multi-channel campaigns that have included print.  The research and stats are out there.  While it may cost more initially, the return on your investment will be higher when print is involved.  Visit our website  and to see these case studies.


Is Sloppy Messaging Hurting Your Multichannel Investment?

Melinda Cross

Communications Strategist, Creative Director, Writer

This post comes from Melinda Cross. Melinda is a communications strategist whose career experience has ranged from assistant press secretary on Capitol Hill to group creative director at a large Chicago advertising agency. Her fresh, creative concepts and compelling copy have helped strengthen brand communications for leading businesses and not-for-profit organizations including: American Dairy Association, HSBC,  McDonald’s, Marriott/Ritz-Carlton, Aon Hewitt, Zurich North America, Radius Global Market Research, Abbott Laboratories, CVS Caremark, MMPI/The Merchandise Mart, Loyola University, Goodman Theatre, High Museum of Art, Chicago Opera Theater and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, among many others.


Marketers are fortunate to have an abundance of messaging channels in their toolbox in which to reach their target audiences—direct, web, email, mobile, social media (Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn), print, broadcast, in-store, call center and more.  A great deal of planning resources and time is spent determining the appropriate multichannel strategy for a campaign using data analytics to deliver insights into customer behavior and response.  Depending on budget levels, a multichannel touchpoint plan may use anywhere from a minimum to three channels to a dozen or more.  But the strategic work is only half completed once the ink on the touchpoint flowchart dries.

If your plan calls for multiple touchpoints over weeks or months with your target audience, managing the message flow is equally as critical as the channel choice.  Marketers operate in a  “what do you have new for me today?” customer environment. Attention spans are shorter than ever (can we say 140 characters?). Inboxes are overflowing with writers’ best attempts at “open me-read me” subject lines.  Even the LinkedIn newsfeed is hard for customers to keep up with and sort according to their interests and preferences (wouldn’t you love to be a LinkedIn Influencer and have all those eyeballs on your message?).

Cutting through the clutter requires strategic marketers to also be strategic messagers—determining the right words at the right time in the right place. Think of strategic messaging as an unfolding story—how do you engage your audience with a compelling beginning, middle and end to your campaign message? Too many marketers think that maximizing their channel spend means they’ve got to say as much as they can squeeze in at every touchpoint along the way. Or to keep hammering home the same point each and every time. That’s a sure-fire way to get your audience to tune out after a couple of touchpoints.  A well-honed messaging strategy helps you avoid sloppy and dull storytelling.

So how do you strategically plan your messaging? For starters, map out the “RCAs” of each touchpoint:

  • Relevant: What’s the most relevant message for your audience at that touchpoint in their decision pathway?  You’d be annoyed if a salesperson in your favorite store started dumping all the information they had on a product in the first 60 seconds—some messages are more relevant early on in the conversation. Same rule applies for campaign messaging in print, on air, and in the digital world.  And a message that is appropriate for Twitter doesn’t always translate well to the web or print.
  • Concise: How can you get across your message as concisely as possible? Put your journalist hat on and think about what makes the most compelling lede for your story—a short paragraph at best.  This often takes a lot of editorial discipline to cut out anything but the most critical messages at that juncture. You can always give your audience directions to get more information if they want—a landing page link in the digital world or a web address in the print or broadcast world.
  • Actionable: Don’t leave your audience standing alone in the middle of the field—always have a clear and actionable path forward towards the final goal.  It can be an invitation to learn more, call to speak to a human being, sign in to their account, or anything that moves them closer to a final decision.

If you’re a marketer looking for the best ROI for your campaign, take the planning time to strategize your message by decision cycle timing and channel focus will pay off.


Making Mail Magic with Visual Tricks

Trish Witkowski,


This post comes to us from Trish Witkowski, the Chief Folding Fanatic at  An educator, author, speaker and award-winning designer, Trish specializes in creative solutions for mail and marketing.  She hosts a popular e-video series “60-second Super-cool FOLD of the WEEK.” Trish holds a MS in Printing and a BFA in Graphic Design from RIT.

There are so many great ways to get someone engaged in a mail piece. Color, and envelopes and opening mechanisms, and size and shape and printing techniques and paper choice and more—but my favorite go-to strategy of the moment is the visual trick.

I love visual tricks because they’re fun, and simple and very inexpensive. I get a lot of requests for cheap ideas that offer a lot of bang for the buck, and visual tricks really fit the bill.

If you’re unfamiliar with the technique, a visual trick is when imagery is the focal point, and the audience is somehow invited to interact with it—maybe by revealing a slightly different image behind the original (think smiley face to sad face) or by using a short fold to remove a phone from the cradle or to “open” an oven door. You can do neat things with zip strips, pull tabs and peek-a-boo perfed windows, too. There are no rules, but the fun is in the surprise and the creativity. The experience of receiving and opening the mail piece becomes memorable, intriguing and can lead to a response or further investigation.

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few fun real-world samples from my collection.

trish image 1  trish image 2

Credit: J.S. McCarthy Printers


trish image 3

Credit: Vision Marketing

For more engagement strategies, check out my “Direct Mail Strategy” course on, and my eBook series Direct Mail Simplified, available at Lastly, don’t forget to visit to view over 350 videos featuring creative marketing ideas.

Using Video in Your Marketing Efforts

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


The old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”- well then a video is worth ten times that! It is not a secret that today’s society is completely bombarded by news articles, emails, tweets, etc. that most of the time those written messages get skimmed for the important details, read and disregarded.  Video is a great way to capture someone’s attention, making an impact and hopefully making the sale. 73% of consumers said they would be more willing to buy a product online if there was a video to view the product (marketingprofs).  Video use isn’t just limited to marketing a product.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was a welcome video on your website when a potential customer came to your site where they could click and get a great understanding of your business directly from you?! The great thing about video marketing is this allows companies to really showcase their personality!

While trying to practice what I’m preaching- I will keep this post short and sweet.  Here are a few great examples of video marketing:



Simply Hike:


At Rider Dickerson we have been using video marketing for the past few years to showcase cool projects or to preview the great content in our printForum conference. If you are interested in viewing any of our videos please visit our YouTube Channel.






Dean Petrulakis

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


How Important is Your Data in Direct Mail

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

I don’t think there is a simpler way to put this- your data is THE most important element driving your direct mail responses.  Yes, there are many things that go into creating a successful direct mail piece such as; a great design, catchy wording, the right message, etc. but if you do not have accurate data that amazingly designed piece is worthless.  You may have seen the 40/40/20 rule established by marketing expert Ed Mayer.  40% of the effectiveness of your mailing is attributed to the data.  Today, I’ve heard it suggested that it’s now the 60/20/20 rule.  60% data, 20% offer and 20% everything else. 

Being able to get your message into your audience’s hands is half the battle.  This topic reminds me of story that a client once told me. This client spent mucho dinero creating an extremely high-end direct mail piece and didn’t bother taking the time or spending the money on making sure their mailing list was clean and accurate.  They mailed the oversized, beautifully designed piece, accumulating a higher postage rate because it was oversized, and much to their surprise received 90% of the pieces back in the mail because the pieces were undeliverable to the addresses they used, or the company had a new address, or the information was simply incorrect. All of the money they used on that beautiful design= a complete waste. The message never got to their audience.

Some people may read that story and think- why even use direct mail in the first place?  Well, studies show that marketers that used direct mail along with other marketing channels to get their messages across saw a 72% higher response!( In today’s world, everyone is constantly bombarded with emails, tweets and posts that it is refreshing when we receive a well-designed direct mail piece and we are more 10-30 times more likely to take action rather than just receiving an email only. (Adage)

One way that we at Rider Dickerson clean up our data list and help our clients do so is through our SmartTrack Technology.  With SmartTrack, you can drive visitors to a set of landing pages where you have the ability to ask them to update their personal information, address, phone number, etc. so that you have accurate information for your next mailing. SmartTrack software is extremely user-friendly and can be linked directly to your CRM so the updated information you receive on the landing pages filters directly into your database.  We also work with our clients at the outset of a mailing and help them secure the right mailing list.  Outside of your house list, there are many ways to target the right audience for your mailing.  Based on factors such as geographics, demographics and psychographics, we can pull just the right lists to help our clients’ message get to the right people at the right time.

printForum is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, March 11th 2014, “Made You Look! Made You Buy! The Secrets of Engaging Mail!” featuring special guest speaker, Trish Witkowski of  If you are looking for ways to improve your direct mail responses you won’t want to miss this free webinar! Register here!  Hope to see you there!


Dean Petrulakis

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


Three Reasons to Make Marketing Planning a Priority in 2014

Julia Brady

Principal, Perceptive Strategies 

This post comes to us from Julia Brady, Principal at Perceptive Strategies. Julia is a marketing and brand strategy consultant who has written dozens of marketing plans for consumer product and services brands.  Julia built her brand foundation with eight years at PepsiCo, followed by a decade working in healthcare and higher education marketing.  Julia partners with Rider Dickerson on various high-level marketing campaigns, bringing her marketing strategy expertise to the table to give shape and definition to the campaigns.


When I started a new position as Vice President, Marketing and Corporate Communications for NorthShore University HealthSystem in mid-2009, one of the first documents I looked for was the Marketing Plan.  You know, that fifty page, single-spaced, Word document so carefully written and sitting in a binder somewhere.

After some inquiry, I found out that marketing planning was an activity discontinued years before, seen as a futile effort in such a fast-changing organization.  I wasn’t convinced; how do we know what success looks like? What clinical areas should we invest in? What role do important investments like advertising, direct mail and public relations play in growing the NorthShore brand and engendering loyalty?

While marketing planning is an annual ritual for consumer brands like Cheerios and Gatorade, its value in building service brands, particularly in high engagement brand sectors like healthcare and higher education, is not always as clear. Having worked in both consumer products and services marketing, I can share three key reasons why marketing planning for your organization is actually very important. 


Reason 1: Marketing Planning Creates Focus

As most marketers in service organizations know, the marketing team is not always at the table when key strategic decisions are being made. This means many priorities are handed to marketing, and the team often operates in reactive-mode.  A marketing planning process forces focus and articulation of priorities, which can help the marketing department work smarter and be more effective.

Prior to instituting annual marketing planning at NorthShore, my department was reacting to frequent requests just weeks prior to a go-live date. By creating a marketing planning process, the marketing team as well as the clinical department was able to work smarter and plan for measurement, so results could be more clearly tied to initiatives. Even better, this process created more flexibility to respond to requests driven by a competitive move or a newly prioritizes services launch. In the end, both the marketing team and the clinical departments came out ahead.    


Reason 2: Creating a Smart Marketing Plan Will Take Less Time Than You Think  

I have developed and advised on dozens of marketing plans in my career, and have learned that the best plans are concise and efficient documents. There are a handful of key ingredients in a marketing plan, and each section of the plan can ultimately be contained in a couple of pages. 

An important rule of thumb is to start with clear, measurable objectives. For many organizations that can be volume growth, as well as a less financially oriented goal such as service experience improvements to drive loyalty. When working on a plan for a Cancer Center within a large health system, one goal may be to drive patients volume, and another may be to enhance patient experience through key service measures.

The other critical section of the marketing plan is the strategies.  This section calls for more focus; important decisions are made to determine which strategic initiatives will help achieve the plan objectives. For a university looking to raise its profile, one strategy may be to engage alumni as ambassadors. The strategy section should comprise a handful of key strategies, ideally three to five total. The tactical initiatives align to each strategy area, creating a logical, focused marketing program. 


Reason 3: Marketing Planning Positions Marketing as a Strategic Partner 

When done right, marketing can act as a convener, bringing together diverse areas of your organization to create a strategic document focused on driving organizational growth.  As I alluded to earlier, for a long time at NorthShore marketing was seen as the “order takers” and requests came from clinical departments for a brochure or a new web page.  Operating this way was not effective and drained the morale of the marketing team.   By instituting a planning process marketing could approach a key internal client and ask them numerous strategic questions about business growth objectives, challenges and opportunities that positioned the marketing team as a smart, engaged partner. 

If marketing planning is not a regular part of operations, your organization may be missing opportunities for driving growth through more focused marketing efforts. Creating a concise, effective marketing plan that can serve as an important platform for engaging customers while unifying the organizational vision. It should not be the arduous task some books make it out to be and can actually save money in the long run as you achieve clarity on your most important and effective marketing investments.


Julia Brady

Principal, Perceptive Strategies

Reflections on printForum 3

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

It’s been 2 weeks since our wildly successful printForum 3 event in Chicago.  We brought together nearly 200 clients and friends in the creative and marketing community for an afternoon of inspiration, learning and networking.  We had quite a bit of fun as well!

As I think back on printForum 3, a few key things stand out in my mind from our impressive group of speakers.  Trish Witkowski (@foldingfanatic), showed us how direct mail is still one of the most effective tools for attention grabbing, action sparking response driven marketing.  Direct mail, when done right, has a way of emotionally connecting with customers in a way digital just can’t.  It evokes feelings and inspires action.

Of course, what would a session with Trish be without some folding inspiration, as Trish walked us through her top 10 favorite direct mail pieces.  Trish’s session wasn’t all about the creative aspects of direct mail.  She shared hard hitting stats about response rates and covered key postal regulations, many of which have changed recently. Lastly, Trish drove home the point that all the cool and well designed direct mail in the world doesn’t matter if your list stinks.  Data. Data. Data.

Scott Stratten (more popularly known as unmarketing) honestly stole the show.  Scott had a room of 200 people laughing (in tears for many of us) for 1 hour.  I describe it as marketing meets stand-up comedy– more of an inspirational rant rather than a keynote.  Not lost in the hilarity of Scott’s talk was the overriding message:  we need to be smarter about how we engage with our customers.  The brand is not the logo (I’m laughing thinking about Scott’s logo rant!).  The brand is the experience at every touch point within our organization.  The sooner we realize that the better.  I think there was something in Scott’s rant about QR codes as well—I think!

Scott has a massive following on Twitter (@unmarketing), and he was one of the early adopters of what I now consider to be my favorite social media channel.  Scott talked about the power and the immediacy of social media, but he warned that if you want to play in the real time world of social media you better be prepared for a 24/7 job.  He also said that Twitter has no ROI.  Rather, being awesome on Twitter has an ROI.  Want to go viral—then do something or say something worth talking about.  That’s how you go viral.

Following Scott’s unforgettable rant we heard from an esteemed panel of Chief Marketing Officers as they addressed the balance of Art (brand awareness advertising) and Science (ROI driven marketing).  Our panel featured Megan Bueschel of Mario Tricoci, Michelle Spellerberg of Sikich and Kelly Shannon of Loyola University Chicago.  These 3 impressive women explained the challenges of running a brand while being tasked with driving and measuring numbers at the same time.  The audience had the chance to get inside the panelists’ minds and ask questions.  The insight shared was helpful to everyone.

We closed the afternoon with an interactive session led by the iconic Second City actors.  “Funny Business”, as the session was titled, was meant to teach us how improv can make us better marketers, better sales professionals, and better overall in our professional and personal lives.  We learned that listening is indeed an active skill (see a prior blog post I wrote about this—I firmly believe this).  We also learned how saying “yes and” completely shifts the tone and flow of the conversation and can spark a new level of creativity in our organizations.

printForum is truly is our platform for educating and engaging our customers.  The content we share in our event and throughout the year in our magazine, emails, webinars, etc.. is thoughtful and meant to challenge our customers to think differently.  We accomplished that goal with printForum 3, and we now look forward to printForum 4.



Dean Petrulakis

Rider Dickerson

Senior VP, Business Development

A Different Kind of Networking

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

I was having breakfast with a client recently.  This is nothing new.  I have many breakfasts, lunches and dinners with clients.  The breakfast meeting was a really good one.  We talked about business opportunities and discussed ways we might be able to help each other grow our respective businesses.  We talked a lot about networking and building trust with clients, and that developing new business is a process that requires more than cold calling.  It was a nice conversation and a mutually beneficial meeting. However, it’s what happened after breakfast that may have forever changed our relationship—in a good way.

My client is from St. Louis, and we were having breakfast in Chicago.  We wrapped up our meeting around 10 am so she could have plenty of time to hop in her rental car and make it to the far northern suburbs for an important noon client meeting.  I had a noon lunch meeting as well and had planned to spend the next hour or so catching up on emails that had piled up during our meeting.  We walked outside, shook hands and discussed my plans to come visit her and her colleagues at their office in St. Louis in the fall.  The sun was shining, and we were both excited about the rest of our respective days.

As I turned to head to my car my client had a look of utter shock and disbelief on her face.  She looked up the block and didn’t see her car.  For a moment she thought maybe she parked on another block, but that was just wishful thinking.  She had indeed been towed.  As panic began to set in, I assured her we would figure out where her car was and go get it.  I even chuckled a bit in disbelief myself.  She would later tell me that chuckle and my statement put her at ease.

As we drove to the impound lot to get my client’s car she was still visibly frustrated by this crazy turn of events.  It took her 4 or 5 phone calls just to learn where her car was, and now she was most likely going to be late to her important meeting.  After finally learning where her car was she laughed and said to me “Well this certainly takes our relationship to a whole new level! Talk about networking.”

We shared a good laugh, but inside I couldn’t help but think how this whole episode would have never happened if my client and I didn’t arrange this breakfast meeting and take the time to meet with each other.  Sure, we email, text, and exchange phone calls.  However, we both are big believers in personal interaction.  We know that business is still earned, grown and solidified in the face-to-face interactions we have with our customers. True bonding and rapport cannot happen on LinkedIn or Twitter. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a big believer in the power of Social Media and developing a network of connections on the outlets that are most appropriate for your business.  But, all of the activity on those Social Media platforms can’t replace the dynamic of actual networking and personal interaction.

It’s easy to sit at your computer, tablet or smartphone and fire off tweets and status updates on LinkedIn or Facebook.  It doesn’t take much effort to be honest.  I do it all the time.  I have made many good connections as a result.  However, those relationships are strengthened and cemented in the three dimensional world of networking events, conferences, business meetings, breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Heck, you may even be in a position to rescue a client in need one day and change your relationship forever.  I know I won’t forget this day.  I’m pretty sure my client won’t either. 


 Dean Petrulakis

Rider Dickerson

Senior VP Business Development


Listen Up

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


I’m 43 years old.  Yet I can remember back to my days as a know- it-all teenager when my dad gave me a lecture about listening.  He said 4 words that have stuck with me my whole life—“listening is a skill.”  I didn’t really know what he meant at the time, and I’m sure I told him I understood even though I probably wanted him to stop talking so I could go back outside and play basketball.

Many people talk about having sports figures as their role models, but for me it was my dad.  He was my role model.  I wanted to be just like him.  I looked up to him.  I guess it’s funny that he is a lifelong salesman and I am now a successful sales professional myself.  One thing is certain—my dad couldn’t have had the successful career he’s enjoyed as one of his company’s top sales reps if he didn’t spend his days listening to his clients more than talking at them!

All these years later I find myself hearkening back to that lecture from my old man.  I have 3 children, one of whom is a 12 year-old boy. I can’t even recount how many times I’ve recited those same 4 words to my son.  He insists he’s listening, but I know he isn’t.  He might be hearing me or his mother when we lecture him, but he’s not listening.  He’s young.  He hasn’t learned what it means to truly listen.  I can’t blame him.  I was probably the same way, but I feel it’s my obligation to teach him to learn earlier than I did that listening is one of the most important skills he will develop as he continues to grow and eventually become a man himself.

American philosopher Mortimer Adler wrote more than 30 years ago something that holds true today:

“Is anyone anywhere taught how to listen?  How utterly amazing is the general assumption that the ability to listen well is a natural gift for which no training is required.  How extraordinary is the fact that no effort is made anywhere in the whole educational process to help individuals learn how to listen well.”

I spend my days in my role as Senior Vice President of Business Development at Rider Dickerson, working with clients in many industries, and my clients have needs that are very specific to their business goals. It’s my job to ask questions and listen so that I can learn what their challenges so I can discover how I can help my clients.  Even better, if I ask the right kinds of questions and listen intently I should be able to help the client identify problems they didn’t even realize existed.  Imagine the value you could deliver to your clients if you listened with such clarity that you could uncover underlying issues for your client—just think about the value you could add.

So the next time you are in a personal interaction with a colleague, client, friend or family member, make a concerted effort to pay attention to your listening habits.  Are you really actively listening to what the other person is saying, or are you waiting for them to finish what they are saying so you can spit out your next thought?  If you find yourself falling into the latter, try this little tip—wait for 3 seconds after the person with whom you are speaking finishes his or her thought before you respond.  The little gap of silence might seem odd, but you won’t risk the chance of interrupting the other person, and you give yourself the opportunity to absorb what was just said to you.

Remember, listening is a skill, and like any skill it takes practice to improve. Start today!  


 Dean Petrulakis

Rider Dickerson

Senior VP Business Development





Making a Splash with Mobile Marketing

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

In today’s marketing world there are many different channels to choose from when trying to get your message out.  In the past year Mobile Marketing has become one of the most talked about channels.  With everyone attached to their mobile devices all day long, mobile marketing is a great choice to capture your audience’s attention.  It has been said that a person’s mobile device is the one thing they could not live without.  According to a recent survey conducted by Nokia, it found that looking at their phone is the first thing many people do each day – as they use its alarm function – and is also the last. In between, phones are used to check the internet, read emails, take photos as well as to make calls and send texts.  With individuals being this attached to their mobile phones, mobile marketing has been a great channel to get your message out to your target audience.

It has been found that 93% of SMS text messages are opened within 4 minutes of sending!- that is a fabulous open rate! On average, users check their smartphones close to 150 times or every 6.5 minutes during a waking day of 16 hours!  Using mobile as a part of your marketing campaign can help drive a higher response rate. While mobile alone will not drive response rates and interactions, when coupled with other media channels it can be a very persuasive and powerful tool.

Mobile marketing is not limited to only sending text message reminders; it can be utilized through QR Codes, promotional coupons, links, videos, etc. There are many great use cases of how to successfully use mobile marketing. One example of using mobile marketing strategically in your marketing mix is Red Bull.  They recently launched a mobile media campaign that drove potential customers from a US Weekly Mobile Ad to the company’s mobile site where consumers could learn more about the product.   Red Bull has been able to showcase its new products and drive more traffic to it website through this mobile ad. To read the full article on how Red Bull used mobile media in its marketing campaign click here.( )  

Another marketing campaign that Rider Dickerson ran which included mobile marketing was CRAIN’s Chicago Business Vision 2013.  CRAIN’s Chicago Business ran a cross media marketing campaign that incorporated print materials, the CRAIN’s website, and QR Codes leading to a mobile optimized microsite. Through the use of QR Codes, we were able to drive the audience to the mobile experience.  Visitors were able to download the chosen article directly to their mobile device. There are many other ways that you can incorporate mobile into your marketing campaign such as event reminder texts, promotional text messages, links to microsites, coupons, videos, and many more.

One mobile marketing campaign that we ran in the fall was for Robert Morris University.  The integrated strategy for the RMU Camp College Campaign was composed of variable postcards to 21,000 students containing a text short code, “CampRMU”, which will respond with a link leading students to a landing page experience. The postcards also included a URL and QR Code leading students to the landing page incase students could not receive text messages. On the mobile- optimized landing pages students were asked to fill out a form to schedule a visit to attend Camp College. With most high school students attached to their cell phones, using SMS texts to help students sign up for a visit day worked out great!  

Whether you would like to start with a simple SMS text message incorporated in your marketing campaign such as a text for an event reminder or if you are ready to dive in to mobile marketing with a more elaborate mobile campaign similar to the Crain’s Vision campaign there are many different levels of involvement.  For your next marketing campaign there are plenty of ways to incorporate mobile marketing with any budget.  If you have questions regarding mobile marketing, would like more information on the case studies or where to get started, I am happy to have a conversation.


Dean Petrulakis

Rider Dickerson

Senior VP Business Development

Making an Impact with Direct Mail

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

Every day the average American receives over 3,000 messages- that is a huge amount of information each day! We are constantly bombarded with text messages, billboards, T.V. and radio commercials, online ads, etc. The average person remembers eight of those messages each day.   In order to get your message heard and remembered it is important to stand out.  Because digital media can sometimes be diluted with so many messages, the use of print in your marketing campaign can help your message be heard and stand out in the clutter.

In 2013, The Target Marketing Media Usage Survey found direct mail delivers the strongest ROI out of all media channels. (printinthemix) According to the study, customer acquisition for direct mail was 31.3% and customer retention was 37.5%. Incorporating the use of direct mail in your marketing campaign may help to have your service or product be remembered. In today’s society, Millennials (people who are between the ages of 18-33) make many purchasing decisions.  Knowing how to target them correctly is imperative.  While one would think that since they are constantly on their phones or connecting via social media, that would be the way to get their attention.  If it is done in the correct way it could be but according to a study found in Deliver Magazine, 75% of Millennials would prefer to be contacted or sold to via direct mail.  This is because they are on their phones and social media channels all day that when a well-done mail piece arrives to them it captures their attention.  Like I mentioned before, it is all about standing out so any old postcard or letter just won’t do.  You need to invest in quality creative and targeted messaging.  More important, you need to make sure your mailer is sent to the right person at the right time.

With that in mind, there are ways to spice up your direct mail without breaking your budget.  One way to grab your target’s attention in the mail is with the use of color.  While most of the mail that comes to your house is in a white window envelope, just by adding color to that envelope can instantly help you stand out.  This is also true with postcards.  While everyone receives hundreds of junk mail postcards each year, many of which don’t get read- with great design and minimal copy and a strong call to action you have a better chance of getting noticed.  Another way to standout is through the use of personalization.  Everyone likes to feel that the messaging relevant to them.  In fact, they expect it today!  There’s simply too much data out there for you not segment your list and target folks more effectively. pURLs (Personal URLs) can be added to mail pieces to drive recipients to an engaging online experience.  By using personalization correctly, messaging and creative can have more of an impact on individuals.  It is important to always have a call to action with each piece of mail you send so that pieces are not just being sent for the sake of being sent.

With any marketing campaign it is important to track the success of the pieces.  Our SmartTrack technology allows marketers to do just that.  We can manage various pieces and see when they arrive in recipient’s mailboxes and can schedule a follow-up email or text to remind them to check their mail.  In addition if the direct mail piece is personalized with a pURL our technology can track that pURL and see when the targeted person visits their personalized microsite experience.  It is a great way to track the piece and see how well it did. We can provide the client with real time dashboards so that they can monitor and respond to leads in a timely manner—helping them convert leads into sales more efficiently.   With many people investing in digital technology and throwing print to the way side, it is important to see how print still plays a huge role in the marketing mix.

Direct mail has been a primary channel of marketing communications for decades and will continue to be in the future.  You may have noticed that you receive less magazine and printed inserts in the mail than you did years before.  Personally, because print pieces are rare and if they have a good message, they tend to make more of an impact than 1 of the 500 emails we read each day.  If you are looking to stand out it would be a great idea for your next marketing campaign to invest in “smart” direct mail and really connect with your target audience.

Dean Petrulakis


Marketing Trends for 2013

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

I hope everyone has had a great start to 2013. With all of the stress and craziness of the holidays way behind us now, it’s nice to get back to the grind and focus on bettering yourself for the new year.  Many people make New Year’s Resolutions each year such as; lose weight, eat better, spend more time with the family, quit smoking, etc., but rarely keep up with them.  Did you know the average New Year’s resolution lasts 4-5 weeks?! If you are one of those people who has already let your New Year’s resolution slip now is the time to get back on track! While you are setting your own goals for 2013, it is important to keep in mind some of the most prevalent predicted marketing trends for 2013.

The marketing trend that in my opinion I think will really make an impact in 2013 is Augmented Reality. Augmented Reality is relatively new and is grabbing the attention of marketers everywhere.  It is digital sensory technology.  Imagine being able to try on any watch you want all while sitting in front of your computer.  Talking Dog Studios allows you to do just that! Check out this awesome example of augmented reality.  With this technology just becoming prevalent in the market place the opportunities and use cases are endless! Augmented Reality is definitely something that we are looking forward to using in 2013!

We have seen in the last year how mobile has completely exploded onto the scene.  It is now a key player in all multi-channel marketing campaigns. predicts that 68% of companies will increase their mobile marketing budget.  Whether it’s for in store ad displays, SMS text campaigns, or mobile coupons mobile marketing is going to continue to grow and be an effective marketing channel.  The average U.S. adult spends 82 minutes a day on their phone! If your company is not utilizing mobile marketing at this time, it may be something you should look into.

Similar to the early adoption of mobile marketing, are QR Codes.  QR Codes have been used in Europe and Asia since the early 90’s but have just become popular in the U.S. in the past few years. Many marketers are still trying to get the hang of how to properly use QR Codes effectively.  Two companies that have used QR Codes correctly are Cadillac and McDonalds.  Make sure to check out how they used QR codes to engage their customers and potential customers.

Another form of media that has always grabbed the audience’s attention is video.  Rather than sending out an article on a certain subject many marketers have already started shooting videos to capture the viewer’s attention. According to Internet Retailer, visitors who view product videos are 85% more likely to buy than visitors who do not. Setting up your own YouTube channel and creating more videos is one way to better capture your target audience’s attention. In 2012, video was the fastest growing ad growth and it doesn’t show any signs to be slowing down in 2013. Just remember to keep the video short and focused.  The average consumer is so overwhelmed with marketing messages every day, and you don’t want to lose their attention with a video that runs too long.  The duration of the average online content video is 6.7 minutes.

Other trends that are predicted to continue to make an impact in 2013 are location based check ins, integrated social media, inbound marketing, data and content marketing to name a few.

With a month and a half already over, I hope that if you haven’t already made goals for 2013 that maybe I have influenced you to do that now! If not, at least I gave you some cool marketing trends to research! I hope that 2013 is a very prosperous and successful year for everyone!

Dean Petrulakis







Keeping it Social: How Loyola University Chicago Integrated Social Media into Every Aspect of a Key Marketing Campaign

This month we are pleased to feature Melissa Niksic, Marketing Communications Specialist at Loyola University Chicago, as a guest blogger.  Melissa is a long-time client of Rider Dickerson, and we affectionately call her a “friend of the program”!  Melissa was a featured presenter at our inaugural printForum conference in 2011, and we lean on her for her social media expertise.  Melissa’s role at Loyola has evolved over time, and today she oversees all of Loyola’s enrollment social media marketing and video marketing efforts.  Melissa also handles select print and direct mail projects, and fully understands how print and the digital world can work wonderfully together. We love working with clients like Loyola who understand that it’s not a question of which channel to use.  Rather, it’s a matter of how to make them work together synergistically to create maximum impact with your marketing message and to reach your target audience effectively.

Keeping it Social: How Loyola University Chicago Integrated Social Media into Every Aspect of a Key Marketing Campaign

By: Melissa Niksic
Marketing Communications Specialist, Loyola University Chicago

Imagine that you’re a high school senior trying to decide where to attend college next year. Most of us probably remember being inundated with college viewbooks in the mail when we were applying to schools (sadly, I am probably showing my age here). Things have changed dramatically, and while print materials are still a huge part of the enrollment marketing equation, today’s students are also bombarded with e-mail messages, Web sites, mobile communications, and of course social media. Multiple channels give universities an advantage because there are now more ways than ever to connect with students. However, with multiple schools competing for each student’s attention (and tuition dollars), how do you make your campaign stand out? That’s the question we asked ourselves when we revamped our Loyola Weekend campaign in January 2012.

Loyola Weekend is our largest yield event of the year. All admitted undergraduate students are invited to campus for what is basically a glorified open house. Statistics show that the majority of students who attend Loyola Weekend ultimately enroll at Loyola, so we knew that we needed to make this campaign special. In addition to giving the entire look of the campaign a design overhaul to match our new undergraduate branding, we decided that it was essential to bring social media to the forefront of the campaign—the entire campaign.

Loyola has had enormous success using social media as a recruitment tool, particularly via our class pages on Facebook (“Class of 2016,” etc.). We wanted to capitalize on that success and generate even more student engagement through social media to create buzz around Loyola Weekend. We also recognized that our target audience strongly valued social media as a method of connecting with the Loyola community. Therefore, we made sure to incorporate social media into every single communication that went out to students regarding the event. Some examples:

  • We collaborated with Rider Dickerson to create a dynamic personalized print invitation to Loyola Weekend. Each invite included a link to the registration Web site, along with a QR code. When scanned with a smartphone, the QR code directed students to a mobile landing page featuring a teaser video about Loyola Weekend, as well as a mobile registration form.
  • The Web site we created for Loyola Weekend also featured an energetic video designed to get students excited about the event. The site included personalization features specific to each student, making the experience more targeted to each individual user. Every page on the site also included links to videos, blogs, and Loyola’s various social media channels.
  • Every Loyola Weekend e-mail communication encouraged students to connect with Loyola and with each other via social media. Many e-mails also featured our Loyola blogs and videos very prominently (and many of those blogs and videos contained messages specific to Loyola Weekend).
  • During the event itself, we organized several contests using social media that allowed students to win prizes by engaging with the university through various social channels. We also live-tweeted during the event, and let students know that candid photos taken of them on campus would be available for them to view and download on our Facebook and Flickr channels.

I’ve worked on the Loyola Weekend campaign for several years, and the latest campaign was definitely the most time-consuming. There were so many different aspects to the campaign, all of which were somehow tied to social media. So what were the end results? Ultimately, we had the largest Loyola Weekend turnout in history. Additionally, we saw huge spikes in our social media activity, and shortly after the Loyola Weekend event, our “Class of 2016” Facebook page greatly surpassed class pages from previous years in terms of number of “likes” and overall user activity.

As we gear up to launch a new Loyola Weekend campaign in January 2013, we will build off of the successes we had this past year and incorporate new ways of bringing social media to the forefront. If you have any questions about Loyola or about this campaign, please feel free to contact me at or @melissaniksic.

Put Print to Work

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson


When you meet as many people as I do and interact with as many different personalities as I’m fortunate enough to do on a daily basis, the question “Aren’t people printing less these days” comes up a lot.  I get it. Believe me, I get it.  At Rider Dickerson, we certainly put our fair share of ink on paper.  Truth be told, putting ink on paper is something we’ve done for years and years, and quite well if I may say so myself.  However, in today’s climate, being just another printer is an ill fated recipe for disaster in my opinion.

We realize our clients are under tremendous stress today.  There are more channels available to get your marketing message out to your intended audience than in the history of mankind.  In fact, there are probably too many if you ask me!  It’s enough to make your head spin.  To that end, we realize our clients don’t roll out of bed in the morning, pump their fist and say “Yes, I get to go to press today with our new direct mail piece!”  Having said that, print is proven (and I believe will continue to) to be a valuable medium in today’s mix.  When done right, print has the ability to stand out from the clutter and create an emotional connection with your end customer in a way that’s real and tangible.  That’s why my answer to the question I reference above is a simple one.  At Rider Dickerson, our job is to help our clients use print more strategically and thoughtfully.  Better put, our job is to help our clients put print to work!

What does that mean? Simply stated, how can our clients’ printed pieces-whether they be direct response marketing pieces or high-end collateral pieces—be more effective.  The technology is at our fingertips to do some pretty amazing stuff on press and in post-press finishing processes.  Heck, we are now able to print overtop of a metallic laminate to make traditional inks look iridescent.  It’s so cool, and our clients are eating it up.  Talk about making an impact with a printed piece!  That’s just one example.  I have more, but for the sake of keeping this post succinct I will save those for another day.

Let’s talk about 2 other ways print can be used differently and more effectively today.  The easy one is variable data and customized print.  This is nothing new, but as marketers become more and more savvy on collecting better data on their customers and potential customers, we stand in the great position to help them make sense of that data and use it in well thought-out targeted and relevant print pieces that speak directly and in absolute relevant terms to many segments within their list.

The stats are there to support it–personalization is proven to drive higher response rates. I’m not talking about simply putting somebody’s name on a piece and calling it personalized.  Rather, I’m talking about true database marketing.  No more “spray and pray”, when we mail the same piece with the same message and same imagery to everyone on the list and keep our fingers crossed for a lift in response rates.  Marketers understand the need for personal and relevant communications, and during a 7 month period during 2011 the amount of mail that was personalized was 46% higher than in 2009 (printinthemix).  Shame on us and shame on our clients if we are not leveraging data and making our direct mail more relevant (and then tracking and measuring it on the back end—see my previous post on Cross Media).  And for an excellent example of a customized publication, check out this case study.

And then there’s print on demand.  Again, this is not necessarily a new concept.  Only in the past few years has it picked up momentum, and we can tie that back to the surge in digital printing and the improved quality of digital printing. As we continue to educate our customers on the advances in digital printing and the efficiencies that can be realized by streamlining their print and distribution across their organization, interest level has risen and we can begin to discover ways the concept of print on demand might make sense for our respective clients.  Within that challenge lies our opportunity to bring more value to our clients.  Print on demand, when it makes sense, is proven to work.  It’s simple—print only what you need, when you need it, and give your national retail network or sales organization access to these branded materials through a user-friendly web portal.  Pieces can be customized, and they are printed and shipped within a few days to exactly where they need to be.  Brilliant, huh!

These are but a few examples of how we are using print differently with our clients.  There are many others, and as always, the ultimate goal is to help our customers make the most impact and get the most value out of their printed pieces.  Let’s start a dialogue and continue to find ways to put print to work!


Dean Petrulakis

Senior Vice President,

Business Development